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Available to stream on Hi-Yah Network
Adapted from a popular novel by Yuan Taiji instead of Batman, Daniel Lee‘s movie Code of Assassins (aka Song of Assassins, 青面修罗) has the feel of the latter because a young assassin is out for more than just vengeance. Blue Asura Qi Jun Yuan (William Feng) offers quite the fitting introduction to this world, and as for his role–it’s more than to be a masked avenger!
I wouldn’t know that he’s a tortured soul until his backstory unfolds. To watch how he got indoctrinated into a multigenerational clan of assassins at a young age is one element I enjoyed following. Another concerns how he lost an arm in a fight, and later, feeling loss as his entire clan gets wiped out. They were his family. They were the heroes and protectors of Ghost Valley. However, now that they’re gone, he’s turned renegade. The only way he can find peace is to eliminate everyone involved and if that story beat sounds familiar, I’m sure Lee is a John Wick fan too!
But to enact swift revenge won’t be easy in this multi-genre work which is still a wuxia film at its core.
A few minutes into Qi’s narrative includes mentioning some kind of treasure, to which his family hid. The only cypher to revealing where it is was encoded into a small amulet that his surrogate father made. Everybody wants it and I assume it’s some kind of powerful weapon. As for how it fell into the hands of another lord isn’t explained. And he who owns it will eventually become a target.
At least the fights we see here are a lot more inspired! There’s only so much I can enjoy out of a gunfight. When its inspired from the days of yore, a duel between high-ranking agents, I can get behind it. But as for taking down grunts, those battles better be as spectacular as watching a ballet. Here, the choreography takes fighting with wearing a ceramic mask to the next level. To wear anything on the face limits peripheral vision, and to make it believable requires trusting a stuntman’s spider sense to know when to respond.
Also, to see Qi jump into a fight is a stylized manga moment and I was half expecting him to be like Midnight Eye Goku, complete with extending arm (instead of the staff which the detective has) to help him grab onto a roof and swing into a scene.
Ultimately, Code of Assassins fulfils my dream of what if Bruce Wayne became a member of any League of Assassins in any universe. Although we don’t know a lot about this group and their reach, I can only imagine that if they were commanded by the Emperor of China, they would protect their national pride without hesitation.
3½ Stars out of 5